We're in the closing hours of SteynOnline's sixteenth birthday celebrations, which mean sixteen per cent off everything at the Steyn Store until midnight Pacific Time.
We also have fifteen per cent off tickets for the first ever Dennis Miller/Mark Steyn tour, if you enter the promo code HOLIDAYS. That's for all four shows - Reading, Syracuse, Wilkes-Barre and Rochester - and also for premium tickets to meet Dennis and me after the show. But please note you have to order before midnight Eastern tonight.
On this sixteenth anniversary, I thank all of you who've swung by our humble cyber-abode since Thanksgiving 2002, and particularly through the meritless but distracting lawsuits. We win them, but no amount of damages compensates for the time stolen. Nevertheless, I'm very proud that this website now offers more free content - in print, audio and video - than at any time in our history. And in return we also provide some premium extras especially for our Mark Steyn Club members, such as the opportunity to shoot me a question on Tuesday's "Clubland Q&A", and these nightly adaptations of classic fiction.
So welcome to Episode Eighteen of our nightly audio adventure: The Scarlet Pimpernel, a romantic thriller drenched in the blood of France's Reign of Terror. In tonight's episode, amid the filth and squalor of Le Chat Gris in Calais, Marguerite notices that the landlord is expecting someone, even in this age of republican egalitarianism, of a certain eminence:
Brogard had for a while busied himself with clearing the table, and re-arranging it for another guest.. He seemed to take some trouble in making the place look a trifle less uninviting than it had done before.
He even produced, from some hidden recess in the old dresser, what actually looked like a table-cloth; and when he spread it out, and saw it was full of holes, he shook his head dubiously for a while, then was at much pains so to spread it over the table as to hide most of its blemishes.
Then he got out a serviette, also old and ragged, but possessing some measure of cleanliness, and with this he carefully wiped the glasses, spoons and plates, which he put on the table.
Marguerite could not help smiling to herself as she watched all these preparations, which Brogard accomplished to an accompaniment of muttered oaths... When the table was setâ€”such as it wasâ€”Brogard surveyed it with evident satisfaction. He then dusted one of the chairs with the corner of his blouse, gave a stir to the stock-pot, threw a fresh bundle of faggots on to the fire, and slouched out of the room.
So the table is set ...but for whom? If you're a member of The Mark Steyn Club you can hear Part Eighteen of our serialization of The Scarlet Pimpernel simply by clicking here and logging-in. All previous episodes can be found here.
Peter Marsh, a first-month Founding Member from Pennsylvania, writes:
I had always liked the movie that featured Leslie Howard as the Scarlet Pimpernel and Merle Oberon as Marguerite. Raymond Massey was the sinister Chauvelin, and very convincing as the evil nemesis of the hero.
The movie conveyed an action-oriented, and to my mind, a masculine tone about it, a ripping yarn, so to speak. It lead me to find and read the novel, and I was very disappointed by it because, as I read it, it appeared to render what I used to regard as, pejoratively, a "chick flick". However, having listened to Mark's reading of it, I have changed my mind... The way he handles it, the story becomes much more compelling and I find that the aspect of the story that I first disliked now shows the contrast of Sir Percy's character between fop and hero in sharper contrast and I understood how skillfully the Baroness drew her characters.
To me, this story is read by Mark much better than I read it to myself and I come away with more appreciation for the Baroness's actual portrayal, while keeping my fondness for the motion picture version that first made me love the story.
Thanks Mark, for bringing this tale to life in a way that I could not have imagined on my own.
That's too generous, Peter, but I thank you for it, and your perception of the difference between the book and many of its adaptations is quite correct.
~If you're one of that small, brave band who prefer me in vision, I'll be on the telly with Tucker in an hour. For audio aficionados, I'll be taking questions from Mark Steyn Club members live around the planet tomorrow, Tuesday, in another Clubland Q&A, at 4pm North American Eastern/9pm GMT.
Membership in the Steyn Club is not for everyone, but it helps keep all our content out there for everyone - in print, audio, video, around the world, and hopefully changing a mind or two here and there. And, aside from Tales for Our Time, being a Steyn Club member does come with a few other benefits:
~Exclusive Steyn Store member pricing on over 40 books, CDs and other items in the Steyn store;
~The opportunity to engage in live Q&A sessions with yours truly, such as tomorrow's Clubland Q&A, and our video editions of Mark's Mailbox;
~Transcript and audio versions of our video content, such as SteynPosts and The Mark Steyn Show;
~Comment Club privileges;
~Our weekend series of video poetry and other specials;
~Advance booking for my live appearances around the world, and for the second Mark Steyn Club Cruise;
~Customized email alerts for new content in your areas of interest;
~and the opportunity to support our print, audio and video ventures as they wing their way around the world.
To become a member of The Mark Steyn Club, please click here - and don't forget our special Christmas Gift Membership. This holiday season it comes with a special personalized Christmas card from yours truly and a handsomely-engraved gift-boxed USB stick with a trio of our most popular Tales for Our Time for your loved one to listen to in the car or perambulating through the wilderness or almost anywhere else. (The three tales are The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Time Machine and The Thirty-Nine Steps.) For more details on our special Christmas Gift Membership, see here.
And do join me tomorrow for both our Clubland Q&A and the nineteenth episode of The Scarlet Pimpernel.